KWVA’s Top Albums of 2020

Our DJ’s have selected their favorite new albums and reissues of this year!

DJ Dronestream – As Lost Through Collision by Sprain

Easily one of this year’s best. They tastefully blend post-hardcore, slowcore, emo, post-rock, and piercing, wall-of-noise feedback into an incredibly focused, intelligent album. I knew they had potential after listening to their first release, but I didn’t expect them to produce something so fully realized this early on. This is only their first album. If Sprain continues along this trajectory, they’ll be slowcore legends in no time.

Lilyana Rain – For Certain album BIA

This is her first debut album. BIA has been making huge strides in the world of women in hip hop with her unique sound

Judge Rage – Getz / Gilberto (2020 Reissue) by Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto

One of the most important and satisfying albums in jazz history, “Getz/Gilberto” was the introduction to the world of both an amazing singer, Astrud Gilberto; and an amazing song, “The Girl From Ipanema”. This album laid the groundwork for the international bossa nova craze which 55 years later has yet to let up. Check out the reissue that came out earlier this year.

ALIVEDJP – Introduction by Presence Nation of Language

DJ Zombie Zeth – The Chocolate Conquistadors by BADBADNOTGOOD & MF DOOM

Craig Leve – Been Around by A Girl Called Eddy

Her aptly named sophomore release after a 15-year wait, “Been Around” is a masterpiece and a massive nod to the kind of sophisticated pop that’s become increasingly rare. Warm, organic, deeply resonant songwriting and production in the vein of Bacharach, the Donald Fagen side of Steely Dan, and classic Dusty Springfield. Every single track glistens and repeated spins reveal a depth of craft and adult emotion that’s uncommon.

DJ Alright – Microphones in 2020 by The Microphones.

One 45-minute long track that doubles as both a song and an album of the year. It’s a both sonically and lyrically expansive piece covering Phil Elverum’s reflections on his musicianship and life. The nostalgia, depth, and humor are balanced perfectly. I recommend listening to it with his accompanying music video, which is a curated “slideshow” of hundreds of his photographs

Felonius Monk – SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama

Probably my AOTY, the pinnacle of pop music, self-aware & unapologetic. Covers all the bases, from synth-pop to nu-metal to 90’s R&B, without sounding overdone or passé

DJ Mondrochuck – Traditional Techniques by Stephen Malkmus

Following his 2019 album, a twist on East-Berlin techno, the lead singer of Pavement is back in 2020 with a not-so-stripped-down folk album. Utilizing mostly acoustic instruments from both hemispheres to create a harebrained amalgamation of indie psych-folk that contains classic Malkmus syntax and some solid playing from veteran Portland studio musicians.

Scott – Fantasize Your Ghost by Ohmme

Mesmerizing vocal harmonies layered over+under+through amazing song structures. Fun, a little weird, and super catchy; like the best elements of earlier stuff from Dirty Projectors

DJ St. Clair – Pixel Bath by Jean Dawson

His first studio album is super interesting, with lots of synthwave stuff mixed with rock anthems, and a surprise Rocky feature later in the album. I just love how abrasive some of the tracks are, and how pop-y a lot of it is.

DJ B – American Head by The Flaming Lips

American Head was my Covid 19 soundtrack of the year, a cinematic look at growing up in Oklahoma in the drug-addled 70s and those that didn’t make it. A worthy successor to the Soft Bulletin, this release is full of earworms and chock full of riffs and tunes that don’t let go, at least in this covid damaged listener’s brain. One of the saddest albums ever made

Peewee – Farwell For Now Live at the Fillmore by Poor Man’s Whiskey

Reggae Rob – Signz by O.B.F.

An AMAZING dub/steppers record!

DJ Pigeon – Self Titled by Bonny Light Horseman

DJ PJ – Destroyer – Have We Met